Monday, January 28, 2013

MRI musings

It's a funny feeling, having your head shoved into a waste paper basket with a miniature rear vision mirror and long sponges wedged up against the sides to ensure a complete lack of motion.

A decade ago, I was allowed to bring in a CD that was magically piped into the tube, but today I'm grateful that the radiographer speaks English and has offered me some ancient cheeseburger-shaped headphones to muffle the noise. "Cuckoo!" he says cheerfully, more than once, tapping my arm. "You can keep your eyes open but will see only a white wall.  Better to keep them closed and think of nicer things," he trills, eyes glinting merrily. "Cuckoo!"

My response was the usual 'thumbs up' and a wink before the bed glided slowly into the MRI cavity.  "Keep your arms still now," he called as he walked towards the office. "Cuckoo!"

The knocking, buzzing, whirring and pulsing sounds seemed a lot louder than ten years ago. Perhaps having Tom Petty singing of how he learned to fly without any wings made it less noticeable back then.  Whilst loud, being a recent survivor of a migraine on a long haul flight meant that today's closed-in cacophony didn't seem any worse than the endless gullet humming of aeroplane engines.  This was a mere forty five minutes with a pause at some indeterminate time for Mr Cuckoo to inject my arm with some contrast solution and return to making more percussive x-ray racket.

Despite having my eyes squeezed shut, an enclosed cranium and rapidly-numbing hands that I'd foolishly interlaced together, my mind did start wandering.

Reminders to not forget to make a dental appointment for Sapphire; buy some minced garlic and ginger from the Asian Spices shop in Servette; borrow a Frank Zappa DVD for research purposes; ask ex-travel agent friend G for her Spanish recommendations, finish up two overdue articles; and check with Vic Roads: did they ever send me my drivers' licence after my wallet was stolen a year ago? 

The recent, lingering bout of flu meant that my nose started to twitch. Normally a loud and proud honker, I realised that the second option - sniffing it juicily back from whence it came - was not available as it would cause some head movement.  The third option was not so much chosen as inevitable: lie there uselessly as snot dribbled ever-so-slowly out of my right nostril and down towards my ear.....

My thoughts turned from minor errands to bigger issues. Recent disappointments.  Lies told by someone willing to let an innocent person take the blame, and my lack of influence to make the situation a fair one.  Decisions to carry on regardless, consciences utterly clear.  How, at forty four, people's behaviour still managed to shock and confuse me.

Then, of course, the here and now butted in as a cough started to tickle my chest.  Instead of actively ignoring the wet creeping sensation of phlegm edging towards my ear hole, I actively meditated on it. Could this snail trail be a metaphor representing the build up of migraines over the past year or so?  A sluggish sojourn back to boringly detailed food diaries, lost days and blurred vision? A glacial yet inevitable journey towards this day, an MRI scan, to see if the tumour had returned?

Sapphire's face immediately popped into view, as did Love Chunks' and Milly's. Three warm beings equalling my home.  A wheeze emanating from my throat was discernible between magneto-zappings. The cough was impatient: it wanted air time and to get out of my prone body NOW.  I swallowed a few times, taking care not to wiggle anything above my lower lip. Somehow this caused the moving mucus to pause at my temple.

Excellent timing, as the piercing clamour orchestrated by Mr Cuckoo had also ended. 

"You are very good at keeping still, very good. Cuckoo!" he laughed, removing the pillow from under my knees, as I stretched and surreptitiously wiped the snot away with my arm. 

"Did you see anything on the scans," I asked, sitting up and shaking some feeling back into my fingers.

"Oh no no, don't go there," he said, waggling his finger at me in mock dismay. "I am only the technician today.  You will find out in two days."

A few minutes later with my scarf, boot, coats, watch, rings and bangles back on, I strolled towards the Number 14 tram in the fog. What did I want the result to be? A returned tumour to blame the recent symptoms on, or the relief of no tumour but also no reason?

A car horn beeped at me, disturbing my reverie.  I had every right to cross here on the yellow lines..... oh, it was my favourite Parc de Trembley gardener, lover of tennis and all things Federer. "Federer lost but the Australian open was good as ever," he called out to me.

"Oui!" I yelled in return.  "Federer est nombre un pour moi!"  Morning shift long over, he roared off into the mist. It felt good that he recognised me in a different suburb wearing my 'nice' clothes as opposed to my XXXL Man-sized coat and without Milly by my side. 

An hour later, I walked into the apartment with two bags of fragrant spices, some interesting chocolate biscuits to share with friends and a dog eager to go to the park and sniff for squirrels.  The result didn't matter.

28 comments:

Sabine said...

You are so very brave! I will never ever do this procedure without sedation.
Hope your results will be nothing.

Kath Lockett said...

Thanks Sabine. Really, it's just an enforced 'lie down,' albeit being studied intently by a funny Swiss bloke who likes to say 'cuckoo!' a lot.

Plastic Mancunian said...

Bonjour Kath,

I hate things like that - I would demand something to put me to sleep. I struggle visiting doctors and dentists too.

:-(

Cheers

PM

Kath Lockett said...

I've never felt claustrophobic and when my eyes are shut, it relaxes me, Plasman. That's not to say that it was the highlight of my day, of course.....

Pandora Behr said...

Strangely, having an MRI is something I've always wanted to have done - but not in the hope that it's looking for something nefarious. Thanks for sharing the experience - and my they find or disprove what ever it is they are looking for. xx

Andrew said...

I hope the results are good, but what is good? Nothing found and the problem continues or something found that will need attention.

Fenstar de Luxe said...

LOL he's a bit cuckoo!
MRI's are tedious, mine was over an hour of lying still. I'd have never thought I could do it, but I did!

Hopefully your results will be just fine :)

The Elephant's Child said...

Brave, brave, brave. Only the realisation that if I scream my lungs out we go back to the beginning and start again keeps me still.
I hope the results are good. Or benign. Dratted English language - you know what I mean. Cuckoo.

Jane and Lance Hattatt said...

Hello Kath:
Alas, all that you describe here is all too familiar territory and we do identify with all that you say, not least the noise and the technician's, or hospital's, choice of music. The keeping still is painful!!

But everyone is always very kind in that rather over jolly kind of way!

JahTeh said...

Is it just my vile sense of humour that thought of a snot bird flying out every time he said cuckoo?

Kirstie Olley said...

lol, what was with the 'cuckoo'?
I don't think I could be still for 45 minutes. Just wouldn't happen, I'm a world class fidgeter.
Fingers crossed for a good result.

Kath Lockett said...

Pandora, I think you'd find the MRI surprisingly relaxing. If you can meditate past the noises, you're really just having a rest!

Andrew, I'm not entirely sure. A 'micro' tumour has been found which, if it's the same as the Bad Boy of 1995, would be easily manageable with medication. I'm also going to be brave and see an acupuncturist recommended by a friend so that the headaches/migraines I'm left with will reduce in number.

Fernstar he was a bit 'cuckoo' but was better that someone who was burned out and didn't care.

E-Child, it must be hell on earth for those of us who are claustrophobic. Clamping your eyes shut does help though.

Jane and Lance, keeping still is very, very difficult at the best of times, let alone with lingering flu afflictions wanting to make themselves known!

JahTeh, I like the way you think. It's the silly stuff in life like snot that helps us get through stressful things.

Kirstie, I spent most of the time in the MRI wondering why he said 'cuckoo' over and over again. Does he do it to all his patients or was it just something about me...?

River said...

I have tinnitus and partial deafness, so the noises wouldn't bother me much, I'd probably fall asleep.
I'm not sure if I'm sorry to hear a small tumour is there or if I should be glad there is a reason for the migraines. Either way I'm worried for you. I hope .....gosh, I don't know what I hope, I just want you to be well.

Kath Lockett said...

Thanks, River. Actually, falling asleep isn't recommended during an MRI because we often jerk a little and move around during our snoozes!

Mrs Dump (Adelaide) said...

Hi Kath, I am crossing everything to hope that the "micro tumour" can be dealt with easily and simply and then reduce your frequency of migraines (or even better, stop them totally!).
Sending best wishes your way.
cheers
Mrs Dump

Kath Lockett said...

Thank you, Mrs Dump and I hope that you end up with a nicer surname one of these days :)

Anji said...

I can't imagine keeping still for that long. I always need to cough urgently when i go to the dentists.

Hope the results explain all in a nice way;

Radge said...

Great piece, and hope the micro becomes micro-er.

Kath Lockett said...

Thanks Anji - I should find out on Friday.

Thank you too, dear Radge. I think even at this 'micro' stage it's still very, very micro in terms of anything to fuss about.

Ann O'Dyne said...

I salute your supreme self-control of cough and conk.
I have full faith in this pest being mini-micro and magnificently managed with medication, minus any further mind aches.
I have found acupuncture effective eliminating deathwish level heel pain, so go for it. X X

Kath Lockett said...

'Cough and Conk' - sounds like a good name for a comedy due, Ms O'Dyne!

Marshall Stacks said...

support act Snivel & Sneeze.
love from Ballarat

Kath Lockett said...

Nice one, M Stacks!

wilbo43 said...

MRIs are horrible, I've had a few. Hopefully the results will be as you wish. Good luck with them. Sad about Federer.

Helen Balcony said...

You're so brave, doing the MRI head thing. I had to have my knee done the other day. Thought it was rather like photocopying your bum on the world's biggest and most expensive photocopier.

The MRI place had a very groovy selection of music (Radiohead, black keys) but it was so noisy it rendered it pointless.

diane b said...

Things sure could be more pleasant for you at the moment. I hope mini tumour can be dealt with easily. It must be an awful worry for you and your family. Tough Aussies pull through. Thinking of you and wishing you a quick recovery.

Cathy said...

Hi Kath
I'm not sure if it's reassuring or even more bizarre, but 'coucou' is the French equivalent of 'boo'! Maybe he was up for a game of hide and seek...
Good luck with it all; medical visits are never pleasant.

Kath Lockett said...

Thanks Wilbo. Don't worry about Federer; he's still all class and the best ever. I love who sponsors him too - Moet champagne, Lindt and Rolex!

You're right about music being pretty useless, Helen and I'm partly comforted that it wasn't my butt that was being photographed slice by slice by slice...

Thanks dianeb. If it's the same as the original one, I know what steps to take. Annoying yes, but manageable YES.

So he was saying 'boo', to me, Cathy? You'd think that he'd NOT want to scare people who are meant to be lying utterly still... :)